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My Learning Stories

Generate:2019-09-29 17:17:42 Reader:[72]

A Brief Introduction of Dr. Sun Jia:
 
Dr. Sun Jia, whose PhD supervisor was Prof. Gong Wei, is one of the creative and passionate PhD graduated from LIESMARS. Dr. Sun Jia has published 6 journal articles that were cited in Science Citation Index and 1 journal article that was cited in the Engineering Index; Dr. Sun Jia published all of these journal articles as lead author and three of those papers were rated as the first class of Science Citation Index by Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Sun Jia received the Wuhan University Academic Innovation Prize, Guanghua Scholarship, and Tongyin Jin Scholarship.
 
Besides being an academically creative student, Dr. Sun Jia also passionately participated in student association activities and other activities. As the representative of Wuhan University, Dr. Sun Jia took second place in the 8th National Debate Contest about Remote Sensing. She was a member of Geoscience Café, which is an academic club at Wuhan University; and she was involved to edit two magazines about the researching stories. Dr. Sun Jia hosted the opening ceremony of ISPRS Geospatial week 2017 and made a presentation in the IGARSS 2017. In addition, she worked as peer reviewers for five Science Citation Index journals.

Dr. Sun Jia’s Learning Stories:

Mr. Tongyin Jin was one of the founders of the surveying and mapping discipline of Wuhan University. He is a famous Chinese civil engineering scholar and professor at the national level. I admire Mr. Tongyin Jin not only for his profound academic attainments, but also for his deep humanistic compassion and accomplishments. He is an example for students to learn, and I am very honored to receive the first Jintong Yin Scholarship.

As a student of the Surveying and Mapping discipline of Wuhan University, I’ve spent eight unforgettable years studying here. Under the influence of the culture of the surveying and mapping discipline, I’ve gained knowledge and ability with new wisdom and spirit. With encouragement of the teachers, I’d like to share some of my learning stories here.
 
1. Participating student association activities in the postgraduate era: fiddling around OR just another world

“Why wasting time participating student association activities when you’ve been a postgraduate student?” Ever since entering the postgraduate stage, there have been a lot of sayings like this around me. I also had a bit of worry about not getting down to business. However, a simple postgraduate life behind a table and a computer from day to night and day after day, is something quite terrifying to me. Therefore, in the summer entering LIESMARS, I firmly submitted the registration form to join GeoScience Café. It turns out to be a good choice which has changed me a lot.
 
First joining Geoscience Café

I still remember the interview to join Geoscience Café. Because of time conflict, a separate interview was arranged for me. The interview was conducted at the leisure hall on the fourth floor of the laboratory, just where the presentations of Geoscience Café were held every week. It was more of a chat than an interview. I remember that Zhang Xiang and Liu Mengyun, two of the Café principals at that time, were very kind and amiable. Zhang Xiang even seemed to be more nervous than me. This was my first impression on Geoscience Café: equality and friendship with no bureaucratic color.

After joining Geoscience Café, I learned how to hold an academic report with the help of my seniors. GeoScience Café was established in 2009. By the time I joined, the seniors had summarized and passed on very detailed materials so that the freshmen could get started smoothly. My first presiding experience was the report of Dr. Fang Wei in the 91st issue. Though I had attended several lectures of Café, and understood vaguely what a host needed to do, I was still nervous. A large part of the lecture content was also beyond me. However, the encouragement from other companions in Café gave me confidence and made me believe that I would do a better job next time.
 
"There is no fixed access to abilities and experience. With an attentive heart, everything has abundant values and can enrich our career and life."

A teacher in LIESMARS once said this. I think this also reflects my work at GeoScience Café. What impressed me a lot is that before officially released, each poster of the upcoming report is sent to an internal chat group for everyone to “nit-pick”. Each word, sentence, even punctuation mark is carefully weighed. It’s quite surprising to me how a poster that had no problem in my opinion can be improved in so many places!

Every time I work or exchange with the companions of GeoScience Café, I learn a lot from them. For example, Mao Feiyue is always willing to share fresh and interesting insights. Zhang Xiang made sure to attend every report as a principal so that any problem can be resolved promptly. Liu Mengyun and Li Na could always come up with good ideas in brainstorming. To host a Café report decently, Xing Chenjie bought a new shirt and had a haircut. Xiao Changjiang patiently taught me how to do the errands as a principal of GeoScience, etc. All these motivated me to be a better self.
 
I wanted to harvest a wisp of spring breeze, yet you gave me the whole spring.

The text version of reports presented in GeoScience Café has been compiled into a series of anthology collections. Three books have been published so far, and behind each one is a lot of hard work. Concerning the birth of one report in the text version, in addition to success of the presentation, it also involves 1-2 students converting the recording materials into the text form, two rounds of revision by other students, revision by the editor, and a final proofreading process. The published books are given to students of Wuhan University as well as members who often answer the others’ questions in the GeoScience Café QQ chat group. Seeing that researchers from all over the country are paying attention to and supporting GeoScience Café, and the joy they have on receiving the book make us feel that all the painstaking efforts are worthwhile. This feeling also appears when the audiences gather around the speaker to exchange ideas even long after the end of the report.

In the third anthology of GeoScience Café, a new chapter on the inheritance of GeoScience Café culture has been added. I was very touched while reading the feelings and thoughts of people who had worked in Café, many of whom I didn’t know. GeoScience Café was initiated in 2009. Nine years has past, yet the feelings, spirits, attitudes, and methods of our seniors in Café can still be seen in today's companions. This is really the magic and charm of GeoScience Café. After working in Café for a few years, I myself have also grown from presiding a report cautiously to being able to ask questions proactively after a report, and then to becoming the English host of the “ISPRS Earth Space Week” opening ceremony, realizing a leap I never dared to think about.
 
2. Evolution of an academic rookie 
 
A bad start

My undergraduate thesis was not satisfactory enough. At that time, I needed to defend my thesis with the schoolmate ranking the first place in our grade. I was able to tell clearly the differences of our work in quality and quantity. As a graduate student recommended to LIESMARS, my research path had just begun, and I’d lost at the starting line. I was very flustered, and secretly determined to spare no effort in scientific research at the postgraduate stage.

Just entering the research group, Shi Shuo, one of my senior students, gave me several papers that previous students in my group have published so that I can learn first. I thought my English was good enough for me to read a paper, however in reality, the papers seemed completely incomprehensible. There didn’t seem to be many new words, but I just had no feeling reading them. Everything just didn’t ring a bell. Looking back, I was very suspicious of my choice for pursuing a Ph.D. degree. I felt that I was totally unsuitable for scientific research, and didn’t know whether my research direction was meaningful.

Later, I started to do experiments and processed some data. I was sitting in the small room on the fourth floor of LIESMARS. Senior companions in my group passing by often asked me what I was doing and gave me some good advice, such as Han Ge. Lin Heng helped me write a program that is convenient for handling point clouds. In my research group, I learned a lot from my seniors. For example, Mao Feiyue said that one should read papers while doing experiments, otherwise he wouldn’t know what to focus in reading. The report on scientific research methods given by Wang Lunche also inspired me. I often did experiments using the hardware system in our team under directions from the seniors. I am very grateful to Shi Shuo, Yang Jian, and Du Lin for their meticulous guidance and full discussion with me.

I was very excited the first time I got a decent result and was told that this could become an article. Although my first submission had a dramatic drop from minor revision to rejection, my research voyage has started anyway.
 
Too difficult to find a research peer

After that, the second roadblock jumped out of my scientific road. Everyone in my group has different subdivisions of research direction. No one in my group studied the physical model as I did, even the entire laboratory. Under this circumstance, it was hard for me to find someone discuss my questions about a paper or the details in realizing a program. Thus, the research was difficult to advance. There was no other way. On the one hand, I could only read as many papers as possible, and see which researchers have done similar work and try to get in touch with them, or see if my questions in one paper was explained in another one. On the other hand, I inquired whether other students in LIESMARS know someone in the relevant direction. I also looked up the members’ research direction in each academic QQ group I was in, and asked for help those who might know my answers in private conversations.

It’s exaggerating to compare this process with finding a needle in a haystack, but I did experience a very tortuous learning process. At the most extreme time, I read a Ph.D. thesis dating back 2003 from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, learned a lot from it and wanted to know more details of the implementation process. I searched the name of the author, found the school she was employed, even her mobile phone number. After hesitation, I sent a text message to her, embarrassedly asking for help. A long time later, she replied that she was no longer in college or do any research work. The details of her study had been forgotten, and this line was broken.

The persistence in finding research peers was like this. Fortunately, I have successfully found several teachers and seniors who are in line with my research direction. I am very grateful to them for their patience and professional guidance to me. They are Qiu Feng from Nanjing University, Huang Huaguo, teacher of Beijing Forestry University, and Wang Quan, teacher of Shizuoka University. My progress was inseparable from their help.
 
Some submission experiences

Later, I also experienced mediations with very critical reviewers, adding many experiments under the guidance of very rigorous reviewers, and even revising to the fourth round. However, these difficulties are unparallel to the previous ones. My experience in submission is that if the innovation of a paper is high, then it should be submitted to the best journals first. There’s no need to be afraid. Even if it’s rejected, you do not really lose anything. Nonetheless, once it’s sent for review, you earn by having the most brilliant experts in your direction to read your paper carefully and help you revise it. Even if the review result is rejected, the quality of this paper can be improved significantly with the high-quality review comments.

The voyage of scientific research is not smooth. However, from an academic rookie to an independent researcher who can obtain the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, the change I experienced is enormous. The Alchemist says that, “If a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
 
3. Let the seed of interest blossom to flowers

It’s never too young to learn.
 
Starting from the fourth grade of elementary school, my good friend and I were arranged to attend the New Concept English 1 courses by our mothers with the first-year junior high students. On the Saturday mornings of every semester, winter and summer vacation, we took the New Concept English 1 lessons two to three times, and started the New Concept English 2 courses.

During this period, it’s commonplace not being able to answer the teacher’s questions, thus the teacher seldom asked us. A large part of the motivation for learning English was to use my newly purchased highlighter to mark the phrase on the text. When we learned the words "lawyer" (resembling the pronunciation of “grandfather” in Chinese) and "damage" (resembling the pronunciation of “big sister” in Chinese), my good friend and I would laugh for a long time. Encountering the long and lingering word of "refrigerator", we read 50 times in unison and ended up with a greater laughter. Looking back now, the process of learning English was not so much to learn knowledge, but to spend a happy and precious time with my good friend.

Children hardly have any perseverance. Even accompanied by my best friend, sometimes I still got lazy and didn’t want to attend classes. But, even for the class of final exams, when we knew almost no answers and had to make wild guesses, my mother never agreed that I was absent. At that time, although I understood little in English, the spirit of the New Concept English was unconsciously implanted in my head. I was very impressed that in one of the title pages, the author wrote that, “When the teacher makes it his aim to get his class through an examination and no more, he will undoubtedly fail to teach the language properly”. I have been deeply impressed by this sentence until now.
 
I cannot help smiling seeing you.

Life in senior high was quite intense. Boasting on some good English grounding, most of my time was spent on other subjects. But when I was tired of studying, I’d like to read English texts and would feel relaxed. I enjoyed finding novel phrases and collocations, and experiencing joys and sorrows with the protagonist while reading aloud. For example, in the selection of Pygmalion, the flower girl learned how to speak English elegantly, but did not know what she could do in the future. Repeatedly she asked “What's to become me?” just like us wondering about the future map when we were young. The linguist’s excitement upon facing a challenge, “What is life but one challenge after another? The difficulty is finding them. Never lose a chance: it doesn't come every day” still gives me courage to have a try every time I’m timid.

Although having a passion for English, I insisted not to choose English as my major after the National College Entrance Exam. I thought that learning English as a hobby was good. It could give me comfort when I was tired. But if it became my future occupation, I’m afraid it would become too heavy. As a compromise, I started pursuing a double degree in English at the School of Foreign Languages since sophomore. The double degree program included the Bible, English and American poetry and novels, translation, interpretation and so on. English learning is only one aspect. It is more about understanding the cultural and literary common sense of many Anglo-Americans. These have helped me a lot in later English understanding.

I was also impressed by what a teacher of School of Foreign Languages told us when I first started a double degree. It is quite similar to the idea in the New Concept English, “Learning a language and dealing with exams are two different things. Our focus should be on the former. For the latter, as an English-major student, you must have confidence in passing any English test, because all of them have a routine. You can pass through running all the previous papers, even if it is TEM-8.” Her words gave me huge confidence, and it turned out to be true. I took GRE in sophomore, the TOEFL test in junior year and passed TEM-8 with excellence before graduation, all by self-studying and running through papers. If not having spent enough time or with adequate confidence, this could be unimaginable.
 
It’s all swings and roundabouts.

Although I participated in the National English Proficiency Competition for Middle School Students twice when I was in junior high and continued to participate in the exam in college, my best result was only a second prize. I never made it to the finals. In the post-graduate stage, I still insisted on signing up. I thought maybe many students whose English were good had graduated or went abroad. If so, maybe it was possible that I could enter the finals then. However, later I found out that this was not the case. The test for undergraduates divided participants into the English major group and the non-English major group, while for graduate students there was not such a division. As a result, I got another second prize that year. In the next year, I seriously prepared for the exam and my hard work paid off. I finally entered the finals (with tears). There were only two students in the graduate group in Wuhan University who have entered the finals. The other one was indeed from the School of Foreign Languages. Of course, I only took the first prize instead of the special one, but I’d tried my best. I felt that one of my dreams since junior high school has come true.

For me, English may be more than a language. It is a memory, an encouragement, a private solace, or a resounding echo from the valley. I feel very happy to have such an interest that has the power of soul soothing.
 


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